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Law Bans Pesticides Seen as Harmful to Bees in Residential Landscapes

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Tuesday, June 15, 2021   

AUGUSTA, Maine -- A bill signed into law last week bans the use of neonicotinoids, neonics for short, in outdoor residential landscapes. The pesticides are seen as harmful to bees and other pollinators.

Anya Fetcher, state director for Environment Maine, said when neonics are sprayed on plants or applied to seeds, the toxins impair their brain functions, and can be harder to find their way back to a hive, to collect food, to produce new queens.

She added these days, bees are losing more and more of their habitats to development and agriculture.

"Bees are more and more relying on urban gardens and green spaces for healthy and nutritious habitat," Fetcher explained. "And so that's why we need to make sure that our backyards and our lawns and gardens are safe spaces for them to come."

She pointed out Maine's new law is the nation's strongest statewide restriction on neonic use. While some states such as Massachusetts, Maryland, Connecticut and Vermont have removed neonics from the shelves, she noted licensed applicators such as landscapers and gardeners can still use them in those states.

Fetcher stressed pollinators are critical for many key food crops, and help preserve healthy ecosystems. In Maine in particular, she said broccoli, squash and wild blueberries rely heavily on bees.

"Our food systems are very dependent on these natural pollinators," Fetcher asserted. "Not to mention the beauty of Maine, our wildflowers and our greenery, a significant reason that people live and visit Maine."

Close to 90% of wild plants and three-quarters of food crops globally rely on pollinators. She hopes more states and municipalities will follow suit in banning the use of neonics in favor of alternatives.


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